The normality of Derry’s school run mayhem was destroyed to-day at 8.30am when dissident republicans attempted to murder a Catholic policeman in Bishop Street. The attack took place just after the Officer dropped his child off to school at Lumen Christi College. Despite the attackers firing a shotgun into his car the officer was able to escape and drive to Strand Road PSNI station where he received emergency medical aid before being taken to Altnagelvin Hospital. The officer received pellet wounds to his arms and face. This afternoon he underwent surgery at the hospital and, thankfully, is said to be in a stable condition.
The attack has been condemned by all sides. The BBC carries these quotes:
DUP First Minister Ian Paisley described the attack as “the bottom level of hatred and bitterness”, adding that dissident republicans were “getting angry because they are making no headway”.
Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness condemned the attack saying that those responsible “have no popular support and have no strategy to achieve a united Ireland”.
SDLP leader Mark Durkan said: “It is important not only that the policeman knows that the whole community stands behind him, but that those responsible for this attack know that they do not have support from the community.”
Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward said: “There can be no greater contrast between this police officer serving his community and the criminals who attacked him.”
It is clear that the attack enjoys little support from the local community, the city in general or the wider Northern Ireland population. With the PSNI now drawing some 23% of its officers from the Roman Catholic community the attack is obviously aimed at destablising that recruitment campaign. Clearly these attackers would like to see us returning to the death and destructions days before the hard won peace process. Support for the police in Catholic areas is something that is growing as the peace process beds in. It is, however, an expectedly fragile flower which we all need to tend carefully if strong roots are to grow.
The decision by some republicans to carry out this attack is unhelpful. This is 2007, we have moved on significantly, it’s time for EVERY organisation to ditch the guns, cut the crap and get working for our children’s future. A strong economy in a peaceful country is the future we want for our children. We don’t need another generation to experience “The Troubles” anew.
Do you agree?
(Note: the above photographs were taken by a Talkni Staff photographer who visited the scene as the PSNI investigation began.)